Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Ephraim Kamuntu is optimistic that a milestone record number of tourists is to reach four million annually by 2020. This is more than 300 per cent increase from the current levels; that he recently disclosed to the new board members of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) in Kampala.
“This is Hakuna Mchezo kisanja (loosely no nonsense elected term) and we need arrivals to double from the current 1.2 million to four million by 2020. The tourism industry is booming across the world and Uganda cannot afford to be left behind,” he said.
The new board is chaired by Daudi Migerako, a former cabinet minister, who replaces prominent publisher and Igongo Cultural Centre owner, James Tumusiime. The incoming board members include James Lutalo, the Director of Tourism at the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities; Zigiti Zelda from the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development; Tom Davis Wasswa, Head of marketing and commercials at Civil Aviation Authority and a member on the previous Board.
Others are Mrs. Edith Kateme Kasajja, Head of production, Tourism Trade Development representing the National Planning Authority; Chemonges Sabilla from Uganda Wildlife Authority; Eddie Kirya representing the Tour Operators and Mrs Susan Kabonero Muhwezi current Chairperson Uganda Hotel Owners Association and owner of Agip Motel Mbarara are also on the board; Dr Sulaiman Katende from Nkumba University; Mrs Yogi Birigwa Country Manager South African Airways (also Board Director) and Stephen Asiimwe, the UTB Chief Executive Officer.
The Minister told the new board not to waste any a moment, but brainstorm initiatives that will add impetus to Uganda’s tourism. He said fortunately, unlike the hyped discovery of oil in western Uganda which can get depleted with time, tourism is a lasting asset.
Godfrey Kiwanda, a state minister for tourism said, “When guest numbers are low from Europe and Asia, the hotel industry ought to offer Ugandans and East Africans a discount to keep the beds occupied.”